Caterina Gatta, Rome’s Vintage Print Princess
Mary Katrantzou might be Europe’s reigning print queen, but up-and-coming Rome-based designer Caterina Gatta is carving out a niche of her own with her limited-edition contemporary collection of LVPDs, a.k.a. little vintage print dresses. Last night, Gatta was one of seven young Italian designers fêted at London’s Italian Cultural Institute for the first edition of the city’s International Fashion Showcase 2012, an initiative to promote emerging talents from all over the world. While various presentations took place at 19 embassies and cultural institutions around London, we watched Gatta unveil her 13-piece collection of vintage print dresses. And these aren’t just any old fabrics—Gatta hunts for the last few meters of fabric from the likes of Gianni Versace, Valentino Garavani, and the iconic Rome Couture brand Lancetti. (The fabrics are either traceable back to the original designers’ collections or signed by the original designers themselves on the selvage.) Along with the dresses, Gatta showcased a selection of hats, also in vintage prints, which she designed in tandem with her latest discovery, Milan-based milliner Francesco Ballestrazzi.
Gatta’s pieces will be in stores this spring at New York’s Kirna Zabête and Julie Skinner’s vintage haven P.S. Postscript Couture in the Meatpacking District, but her six-dress collection (sketches, below) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lancetti is already available (and selling well, she reports) on Yoox.com. For the birthday tribute, Gatta scoured the back rooms of Italy’s fabric shops for original Lancetti prints and reinterpreted them in her own contemporary style. In the pipeline for Gatta is next spring’s collaboration with primo Italian silk printer Mantero in Como, whose extensive print catalog for the world’s top designers has her in a state of bliss. “The real difference this time is that we will be reprinting, which means it’s no longer limited-edition and I can mix patterns on unexpected fabrics like lace,” Gatta tells Style.com.